The Showcase is a special feature of the Author's Spotlight. It is designed to highlight Spotlight author's NEW releases and their soon to be released novels.
The HBS Author's Spotlight SHOWCASES Ian Kingsley's New Book: The Grave Concerns of Jennifer Lloyd.
He writes Mystery & Thrillers, Religion & Spirituality novels. He has a very informative website directed at writing and new authors.
The Grave Concerns of Jennifer Lloyd
Author: Ian Kingsley
A KILLER TO UNMASK - on an English country estate. The police have given up, but Jennifer Lloyd has a devious plan.
A FEISTY TELEVISION REPORTER - prepared to go the extra mile to secure her career in television. Blagging deficiencies or a dodgy CV might otherwise lead to her downfall.
A HIGH RISK STRATEGY - accusing someone of murder while filming his beloved gardens. Will Jennifer's self-defence skills save her when the knives come out?
Wealthy landowner, Digby Barrington-Smith, was arrested three years ago after the suspicious drowning of his wife within the grounds of their famous Dorset attraction: Solent House and Gardens. Despite police suspicions, due to lack of evidence, and because their Serbian handyman, Toma, suspiciously disappeared immediately afterwards, Digby was released.
So why has he since become a virtual hermit when once he liked nothing better than to chat with visitors to his beloved gardens? And what happened to Toma? After the trauma of an abused childhood in a children's home, feisty, funny, but damaged Jennifer Lloyd, has focused on developing a career as a television presenter - unfortunately founded on an over-imaginative CV and a fictitious degree.
To raise her profile, she plans to produce a documentary about the gardens and Digby's expertise as a plantsman: culminating in unexpectedly exposing him as a murderer - on-camera. Can she gain the trust of this eccentric lurking in virtual squalor within the grand house? Can she worm her way into finding out more than the police by befriending his family and staff? Will Jennifer survive an escalating series of threats and a knife attack? Was there one murder or two? And one murderer or two?
And Interview with IAN KINGSLEY
Good afternoon, Ian. Thank you for agreeing to talk to me about your forthcoming novel, ‘The Grave Concerns of Jennifer Lloyd’.
It’s always a pleasure to talk to you, James. Thanks for your interest.
When was your novel published?
Very recently! It is now available on Amazon.
I noticed the pre-publication review by Book Viral describes your novel as ‘a fine melding of mystery thriller and contemporary fiction.’ Can you explain this distinction?
I believe the reviewer, Stephan Myers, is referring to the character depth you expect from a contemporary novel – not always present in thrillers if they concentrate on a breakneck pace.
To me, getting into the psyche of the main characters is what makes a book memorable - and that’s what I want to achieve. Although writing about crime, I’m more interested in the psyche of my characters than, say, police procedures. I like to think my readers will get to know my principal characters so well they will know how they might react in any given circumstances. But I like that depth framed by the pace and direction that results from a thriller plot, hence this ‘melding’. Contemporary novels can easily drift into uncharted territory if there’s no central thread. Not so with a thriller, which demands a logical development, a distribution of clues, some mystery and a denouement. I believe every scene in a thriller should either develop character or contribute towards advancement of the plot.
This keeps the novel taut and, hopefully, that keeps the pages turning.
In your Author’s Note, you mention your protagonist, Jennifer Lloyd, came to you ‘fully-formed’? How unusual would you say that is for a novelist?
I think it’s unusual for an author to have in mind a character of such depth and strength right from the start. It’s more usual to gradually get to know your characters as you write, often going back to the early chapters to remodel them into what they have become. This was new for me, too. Normally it’s a process of gradually putting flesh onto the bones and personality into their mind-set. But Jennifer Lloyd was different. Her background, her forthright manner, and her wish to be represented in a strong first-person manner, all came to me right at the start. It was as if I already knew her as a real person. I had to take notice of her because this was such a gift. I’m so glad I did, rather than constrain her by employing a more traditional approach. K. C. Finn, a reviewer for Readers’ Favorite, said I created ‘a charming and real young woman.’ That’s good to hear from a female reviewer about my female protagonist.
Although, I would add, she’s not quite so charming in a tight spot!
The most common question a novelist is asked is: ‘Which came first, characters or plot?’ So, did plot develop from your lead character in this case?
Not exactly. I do plan the plot in some detail, including thinking about some of the individual scenes and even how many words they warrant. And I certainly like to know what a satisfactory ending would be from right from the outset – even if I decide to change it later.
Knowing a good ending is what gives me the confidence to put in the inordinate amount of time it takes to get there. If you don’t, it’s like setting out on a journey without a map or a destination in mind. That’s either a formula for a rambling book or a lot of wasted time and rewriting. But, given a workable plan, I always remain flexible. I’m willing to change anything if a better idea or an exciting twist comes to me. In this novel, the ending did change from my original idea. I’m always asking myself: ‘What if?’ The answer can sometimes change things dramatically.
Can you give us a brief outline of the plot?
That puts me back to twists. The mystery thriller is such a well-established formula with its detectives - whether police, private or just plain eccentric - so I looked for a new twist there.
Which is why my protagonist has an unusual occupation: a television reporter and presenter.
Although Jennifer Lloyd is currently enjoying success in television, this is based on a very dodgy CV in which she falsely claims to have a MA in Ecology. She relies on blagging skills and internet research in order to succeed in her work, and her entry into television came from a fortunate break when, as a local newspaper reporter, she was interviewed on national television and was spotted by a media company to be a ‘natural’. Aware her fictional CV may catch-up with her at any time, she wants to build a sound foundation on which to base her newfound television career: with fame being her short-term fix. Inspired by watching Martin
Bashir’s exposure of Michael Jackson in her youth, she goes for a similar approach to catch her interviewee by surprise. In her case it’s to unexpectedly expose a murderer live on camera, when he thinks he’s only going to be asked about his beloved gardens. So rather more risky than Bashir’s mission!
Your principal character sound interesting. Can you tell us more about her?
Jennifer has a broken background and she sees the reader as a much needed confidant and friend. Although very feisty on the surface, the reader soon becomes aware of her fears and weaknesses, and her untrusting nature with regard to men, due to being sexually abused in a children’s home. She learned to be strong, and this allows her humour to shine through which, I think, helps make the book more entertaining. With first-person there’s always the problem of not easily getting away from the narrator, but Jennifer’s humour eases this ‘in-your-face’ relationship, and humorous work snippets both develop her character and act as pace buffers – the kind of thing achieved by switching scenes when writing in third-person.
How do you normally develop your characters?
I found this very difficult during my early attempts at writing fiction. After some research I discovered that many psychologists recognise 32 well-defined ‘normal’ and ‘disorder’ character types, and that sounded a great help. But getting from a character idea to the right type was too challenging. So I developed a graphical interface which made this really easy and that was a turning point for me. It helped me to easily create psychologically-rounded, three-dimensional characters suited to their roles in a story. These days I don’t need the tool so much because by using it I acquired a more natural skill. I believe that to create realistic characters you need to get right into their mind-set, not focus too much on their physicality.
By the way, if there are any writers reading this who are interested in getting to know their characters in greater depth by using the method I devised, they can find more about it online at: synergise.com/p4. It’s also great for understanding the likely interaction between the different types.
Where can readers find out more about your latest novel?
Just go to:
You have a very large following on Twitter. Can you tell us about your social media preferences?
I prefer Twitter because
you can engage so easily with new people, and I can slot in odd tweets while
having a breather from my writing. I tweet daily as @authorkingsley. I’m also
on Facebook as ‘author.ian.kingsley’,
where I replicate my daily tweets, but I don’t have the time to do a lot of
original postings on Facebook – although that may well change. I have a Jennifer Lloyd page there where I’ve
published some extracts. I’m also on Pinterest as ‘iankingsley’ because it’s a
great place to post pictures of the real locations I use in my novels. I like
to create a good sense of place by using real settings as much as possible, and
these images, plus those on my website, enable readers who know the locations
to visualise what is happening. The homepage of my website, at iankingsley.com,
will always give details of where I can be found online, and it includes my
latest Twitter posts in a form that makes them easy to read for those who do
not have a Twitter account. My website also includes a lot of information about
my books, including reviews and details of the settings I have used in all my
Thanks very much for your time, Ian, and much success with your novel.
Thanks again for your interest, James.
Excerpt from The Grave Concerns of Jennifer Lloyd
THE FIRST SCENE:
I PLAN to start with a murder. That should get me noticed. I’m after headlines and television news. Or, to put it more bluntly: fame.
Maybe you think murder is too dangerous for a girl, but I’m dangerous as well. There are dangerous girls in the army; I’m a dangerous girl in civvy-street. Are you shocked? Well, hang on! You’ll guess where I’m going with this when I tell you I was once a journalist and now I’m a television presenter. All I’m really talking about is crafting a dramatic exposé of a murderer. So, you see, I’m quite a nice girl, really.
Did my first sentence make you think I was planning a murder? Sorry. I was just toying with you. But I wanted to show how easy it is to lead a reader on. Can you imagine what fun journalists have coming up with ways of doing that? Tabloid headlines lead you on all the time. You see a headline, believe there’s a crisis, and buy the paper; later you realise it’s merely talk about something that might happen. Anything might happen. So the story sinks: like my attempts at making Yorkshire pudding without the help of Aunt Bessie.
Words are so powerful. They can make or break someone; praise or nag. They can antagonise to a deadly degree. So use them with care.
I started out as a junior reporter on the local Bournemouth rag and I now work as a freelance television presenter. You’d agree that sounds far sexier? Frankly, I’m lucky to have achieved this at a mere 25 years of age. Unusually for me, good fortune gave me a break. I was the first person to respond to a guy who rang the paper from a Christchurch bar saying he had information about a murder. His name was Thomas Black. Over the pint I bought him to lubricate his tonsils, he casually confessed he’d just murdered his cheating girlfriend. The cost of his beer turned out to be the best investment I ever made. It was definitely my most memorable drink in The Ship—although I drank little of my vodka after that admission.
I chatted to him long enough to get a good story, but not the least fearful for my life. Why? Because I thought he was a nutter. So matter-of-fact. Feeling a bit like a Judas, I walked him round to the police station to give himself up. Turns out he really was a killer. So that added to my life experience and taught me to at least consider things at face value.
I made news myself the following day when the nationals and TV news crews caught up with me. I was interviewed on television for BBC news, standing alongside the picturesque River Avon. Ironically, the building where I live was visible over my shoulder on Castle Street. Apparently I came over very well. As a result I was offered a job by an independent company called Broad Brush Media. I was poached. Little me!
Before they took me on, the mainstays of Broad Brush were commercial videos and occasional news items when TV stations were stretched. That’s where its owner saw me fitting in: reporting on occasional news items, but mainly presenting commercial videos depicting how wonderful hotels and restaurants would be for wedding receptions and conferences. That bit didn’t appeal, but the money was better than reporting and it did prove to be the stop-gap that got me into television.
Apparently I had “the right look”. (Which means blonde!) So I can’t grumble. And my boss, Eric Brush, has been a (grumpy) dear. He saw an opportunity with me and grabbed it. I saw an opportunity with him and let him grab. With no formal qualifications other than those I concocted, and no money to bankroll a media degree, Broad Brush was a life-saver. Hopefully it will also prove a career-maker.
It may have helped to say I had an MA in ecology. It might explain why a growing number of wildlife assignments blossomed from the ever-fruitful British Broadcasting Corporation. Thanks to the internet and some intensive research before each project, plus the blagging skills I didn’t mention in my CV, I’ve been able to carry it off so far. And I consider I’m fast becoming a real ecologist, botanist, interviewer, and more! And it’s lovely work out in the open air with fit cameramen, frequent pub lunches, country walks, overnight stays, expenses, wine, and vodka. Especially the voddie.
So far my TV work has mainly been presenting wildlife and documentary stuff. I enjoy my moments of glory, and the lens seems to like me. Repeat commissions from the BBC tell me that. The research manager once told me I was pretty, so maybe that has something to do with it. I’ve noted he ogles me a bit, and that kind of confirms part of the reason for my recent good fortune. But I’ve never had so much as an after-show nibble with him, so don’t think I’m getting assignments that way. Many girls would reckon an after-show nibble with him would be rather nice because he’s well worth a second glance, but not me. I don’t believe long-term commissions are safe if they’re based on that sort of thing. Too much to go wrong, and I’m a bit short on trust. I’m not short on height, though, at five-ten. And I’m fit. (That’s not a sexual or narcissistic boast, by the way, merely a physical reference.) I run. There are even dual benefits from that. It’s always good to know I can get away from trouble fast.
By now you’re probably wondering why I’m telling you all this. Well, as a writer, I’ve found it easier to talk through a keyboard than to people. You’re freed of all inhibitions that way. You can delete in a click rather than regret in a rage. I only know two people I’d trust to tell everything, and you, dear reader, are one of them. So I’ll admit it. This is an emotional data dump. I can’t dump everything on my other fragile friend, so you’ll have to take the strain. Sorry. Still, I imagine you’re strong enough for that. Tell me if I’m right later. We could discuss that over a drink, maybe?
Mystery & Thrillers, Religion & Spirituality
Ian Kingsley - Author Blog
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Author Description: My first novel, a psychological thriller called 'Sandman', was published in 2010. It was set in and around Christchurch, Dorset, in the UK, the area where I live. I like to create a strong sense of place, which is why virtually all my fictional settings are in places I know.
I then published an eBook called 'Reality Check: Science Meets Religion'. It came about because having been interested in both science and philosophy, I was bothered about how it seemed most people had to compartmentalise their religion if it seemed at odds with their knowledge of science. At the time I doubted the existence of God, and I wanted to use my research skills to see whether there was a valid logical argument to believe in a God. After years of research, I came to a position where I felt I could show science and religion to be complementary and compatible: merely two different sides of the same 'coin of creation'. So this book provides the evidence and my effort at logical proof.
Next came my second novel 'Flying a Kite', published in 2013. This is principally set in Bath, England, but there are also elements in Italy, California and Tenerife. It was inspired by the same ideas as 'Reality Check', but put into an easy-to-read story. While this might have religious undertones, at the upper level it is contemporary fiction in its own right, and it has as many twists and turns as a thriller.
My third novel, 'The Grave Concerns of Jennifer Lloyd', published in 2016, is a mystery thriller, but is also akin to contemporary fiction because of its character depth. It is again set in the Christchurch and Bournemouth areas, which I know so well.
I am on Twitter as @authorkingsley, so please join me there for daily tweets. If you're not signed-up to Twitter, the tweets are copied across to the home page of my author website: iankingsley.com, where they are easy to view.
I love to get feedback from readers and my author website provides contact information. If you enjoy any of my books, I would be so grateful if you kindly posted a reader review on Amazon. Thank you so much!
Author's Book List
Flying a Kite
Money always solved everything for multi-millionaire Aldo Galliano. So when faced with imminent death and the need to decide between cryonic preservation or faith in God and an afterlife, he offers a £1m prize for the most convincing argument ‘for’ or ‘against’ God. Enter Bruce Kramer, a dropout theology graduate, who strives to consolidate religion and science by revealing links between creation and evolution, and explaining mysteries as diverse as the Garden of Eden and the wise men's guiding star. But dangerous rivals aim to prevent his success. With locations including Bath, Rome, Lake Garda, Tenerife, Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, this fascinating novel draws the reader deeply into the excitement of Bruce's squabbling research team, his untimely romantic entanglements, and the compelling theories pursued by a cast of engaging but eccentric characters. Subtly combining the spiritual discernment of C. S. Lewis, the humour and rich characterisation of Peter Carey, and all the twists and turns of a mystery thriller, the author brings us an entertaining and unforgettable tale. But beware. Like one of Galliano’s favourite lattes, while it might appear frothy on the surface, a high caffeine brew lurks deep below that may keep you awake at night... thinking.
Book Trailer: Flying a Kite
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Reality Check: Science Meets Religion
This inspiring and unusual book harmonizes science and religion by showing they are both looking at the same things from different perspectives. It shows mind—and God—lie outside the space-time continuum, explains the supernatural, demonstrates how multi-dimensional science may explain where Heaven is, and rebuts classic arguments against there being a God, including those of Richard Dawkins.
The Bible creation story is shown to be compatible with science and evolution, a convincing argument for eternal life is presented, and enigmas like why God would allow bad things to happen are resolved.
Although deeply thought-provoking, this entertaining work is easy to understand and compelling reading due to its clarity, vivid analogies, and gentle humour. If you already believe in God it can remove any conflicts you might have between science and religion. If you do not believe in God, it might just prove to be your godsend!
Visit iankingsley.com for an overview in a 6-minute video of the book.
Reality Check: Science Meets Religion
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Lazing through hot summer days at their beach hut, life seems just about perfect for the Vincent family - until their peace is shattered by murder. An incident between Paul Vincent and Stevie Clarke - an unbalanced beachcomber known by some as 'The Sandman' - leads Paul to inform the police he believes Clarke is the murderer. This provokes frightening and prolonged reprisals against the family from Clarke. Matters deteriorate further when Leah, Paul's teenage daughter, unwittingly reveals evidence to the police which implicates her own father. This gripping psychological thriller places turbulent emotions in stark contrast to beautiful surroundings, testimony to the fragile nature of tranquility.
'Sandman' is a psychological thriller. I believe characterisation is the most important aspect of an entertaining and memorable novel, and getting into the psychology of your characters seems the best way to achieve this. I also believe in the importance of a solid plot, for it is plot that maintains direction and pace. Given these two ingredients, I think everything should move the novel forward by either deepening character or developing the plot. Another thing I believe in is using real settings in order to make it easier to create that feeling of 'place'. In the case of 'Sandman', the 'place' is in and around Christchurch Harbour in Dorset, England, especially the well-known areas of Hengistbury Head and Mudeford Sandbank (whereon lie some of the most expensive beach huts in the world).
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